Phoenix to L.A.: Holy Shit It’s Hot and Let’s Make Big Decisions PART ONE

Where did we leave off?  Phoenix.

Monday morning dawned bright and early, and hot as hellllll!  I had packed my bags up the night before so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning.  When I came downstairs Trish was making me a delicious breakfast!  John, Trish, Destiny, Scruffy and I ate breakfast together outside.  Afterwards I went to put on my shoes and remembered that I had taken the cleats off of them so I could go hiking.  This was one of the things I liked about my shoes, they’re versatile.  However, I had lost one of the screws I need to put the cleats back on.  John rustled up a screw that fit alright thankfully.  I loaded up my bike and said my goodbyes to everyone!  Trish got on her bike (she was going to bike with me for about half an hour) and we were off! I was heading to Wickenburg, AZ which was about 40 miles away.  It was supposed to be relatively flat most of the way which was extremely grateful for.

By about 9:30 the temperature was already soaring in the 90’s and I was sweating profusely.  The water I had frozen the night before had all melted and was hot in my bottles.  I reached my mid-point around 1130 where the highway turns north up to Wickenburg. There was one spot where I was able to refill my bottles, although the owner of the establishment really didn’t want to let me, but I think he knew the alternative for me was bleak. There is NOTHING between that spot and Wickenburg.  I decided to rest there a moment to eat the delicious sandwhich Trish had made for me for lunch.  =)  While I waited I called a church in Wickenburg and they told me I could camp on their property.  I felt much better knowing I had somewhere I would be able to rest that night.  It’s always a big stress off my shoulders knowing I won’t have to panic when I get to town over where to camp.

A few miles down the road I found an old tractor repair shop and went to use their restroom.  Two big dogs got up and were growling and barking and were just plain not happy to see me.  I talked to them calmly through the whole ordeal and just plunked myself down on the bench outside the shop.  (There wasn’t anyone opening the door so I figured I would rest in the shade for a moment before continuing on).  While I sat there the doors slowly starting subtly sniffing me from afar like I think they thought I wasn’t noticing them sniffing and getting closer and closer.  Eventually the tails started to wag and the y approached me nervously.  I put my hand out and slowly and the smelled my hair and then decided I was alright and would I pet them please?  We sat for a few minutes before I decided I had to move on.  They followed me around back to the bathroom and were waiting for me when I came out!

After that the road was pretty empty for the rest of the day.  It was so so hot.  I think it was 97 that day.  To some people that’s not bad but I’m not used to the heat and it always has affected me and this day was no different.  I would pour water on myself and be totally dry in minutes.  I finally rolled into Wickenburg and spotted a Shell station.  I went into fill up my water bottles and immediately was so lightheaded and cold I knew I was going to faint.  I sat down in the middle of the store and everything was fuzzy and I could feel my heart beating in my ears.  It’s not a pleasant feeling, let me tell you.  That was when I turned my phone on and saw a voicemail from the church where I had planned to camp, they were only a mile away.  They told me that they actually could NOT permit me to camp there but that there was a fairground about 6 or so miles away.  I knew, KNEW that there was no way I was going to make it any farther than a mile.  The girl at the Shell station overhead the entire conversation with the church director and when I hung up the phone and panicked she says ”you know you could just camp out back here if you’d like”.

I was totally floored because it had never occurred to me that she would let me do that.  I agreed because I had no other options and she was nice, very good company.  I sat in the Shell station for the next few hours because the sun was still blazing hot and there was no shade whatsoever.  Finally about 6:30 I went out and set up my tent and then went back inside because it was still SO FREAKING HOT.

Have you ever seen a Sprite this big and only for this price?

Have you ever seen a Sprite this big and only for this price?

That night I slept very strangely.  The gas station is a 24 hour stop so there are a lot of lights on.  I kept waking up and thinking it was morning because it was so bright outside.  Finally in the morning I was up and off because I only had 30 miles to go that day.  I was going to a town called Aguila.  I had to go a little early because the wind was forecasted to kick up in the afternoon.  It was another day of flat biking and the heat wasn’t as bad as it had been the day before.  When I got into Aguila I passed a big group of tourists with their van following them, which was cool.  I was directed to a little church down the road so I headed over there.  No one home.  A man across the street waved me over to his yard and said he used to sell bikes and I was welcome to camp on his property.  So I sat with him and his friend for a few hours chatting.  The neighbor took me to see his horses down the road, which was super cool.

 

Hello Pony.

Hello Pony.

When I got back to where I was camping that night I passed a girl who had seen me when I was at the grocery store buying a banana.   She invited me in for a chat and introduced me to her friend who lived in the town I would be stopping in the next day.  I asked him if I could stay on his lawn and he said sure.  He told me that he worked in the local grocery store in that town (Wenden) and when I got to town I should stop there for directions to his house.

That night I slept…oddly.  Every time I would move the dog on the fence I was up against would bark, thinking I was an intruder and then the roosters would start going off.  Around 2am they wouldn’t stop until morning.  In the morning I packed up and departed.  It was great, windless riding on flat land all day.  I rolled into the town and stopped for a bathroom at a little shop.  They told me there was a campground less than a mile away I could use, across from the local library.  I thanked the women and continued on my way to the grocery store.  I then met the young man, who didn’t actually work at the grocery store. He was hanging around out front.  This should have been my first red flag, but it never occurred to me to be suspicious.  He told me he liked to just sit and people watch.  I said that I had heard of a campground and that I might just go there.  He said that I could do that but it was rather dangerous in that area because of rattlesnakes.  I said okay, well I think I’ll head over to hang out at the library.  (It was noon and 100 degrees out, I was not going to people watch under the hot Arizona sun for 6 hours).  He nodded and said okay, but there’s a mountain you have to get up to get there.  I stared at him.  ”Really?”  He nodded again.  I decided I wasn’t going up a mountain in the hot, hot sun so I guess I’d just chill there.  So we sat there for about an hour, literally, just staring at people driving by.  I asked the guy, I believe his name was Rene, if I could charge my phone at his house.  He said he didn’t have any electricity but that his sister lived next door.  (Red flag #2) He continued to say that his parents had given him the house as a fixer-upper for free as long as he repaired it.  We decided to go to his house.  It was close and as I drew closer I started getting truly apprehensive.  The trailer had no doors, no windows and no furniture or anything.  NOTHING.  There was one chair in the house and apparently a bed in the far room.

As I sat in the one chair I started texting Kerry about how I was nervous.  As I’m typing that out Rene calls to me:

”So, do you have a boyfriend?”  I’m immediately on alert.

Me: No

Him: I see.  Do you do one night stands?

Me: Uh no. (texting furiously to Kerry)

Eventually he goes to the far bedroom and falls asleep.  I set my tent up outside to establish that I am in no way planning to sleep inside the trailer.  Five o’clock rolls around and a woman and seventy children pull in to the property next door.  I decide to ask if she is Rene’s sister and traipse over.  Immediately I am met with a look of suspicion and an attitude of irritation and annoyance.

Me:  Hi…are you his sister? (pointing to the trailer where Rene is sleeping)

Girl:  Whose sister?

Me: …the guy next door?  He told me you were his sister

Girl:  …There isn’t supposed to be anyone there, that property is abandoned and I don’t have any brothers.

Me: *horror* uh…okay… (My mind begins racing as I decide what I should do next.  Obviously this woman doesn’t want to help me at all but I need to find out what is going on).  Well he told me that you were his sister, do you know who owns the property?

Girl:  Yes I do, I was just going to head over there and ask them what was happening.  I will let you know.

Me: Okay I’ll…just… go back…to my tent and WAIT.

Girl: Yeah, you do that.

I walk back to my tent and am texting furiously with Kerry trying to decide if I need to leave immediately or if this is all one big misunderstanding.  My heart is racing and I’m watching the sun begin to sink.  I know that the campground is still an option but if there’s a mountain to get up then I’m truly concerned about reaching it before sundown.  Not five minutes after I sit back down the girl returns and says ”I figured out what you were saying, that’s my brother but we’re not close and he’s not supposed to be here.  That isn’t his property and there isn’t supposed to be anyone on the land.”

I’m thinking to myself what the hell, you just told me that you didn’t’ have any brothers.  So I approach the fence separating us and I say “Okay, as a woman to another woman, what would you do if you were in my position?”

She backs away and immediately says ”Oh no, I am not going to get in between whatever is going on between you guys”

I’m like ”There is nothing going on between us!  We met yesterday”  Like, why the hell can’t this girl understand that I’m the victim in the entire situation.

Again she repeats that she wants nothing to do with anything going on in this ”agreement”.  I go back to my tent and think it over.  I also have been texting with Trish who poses this question for me:  “Do you feel safe?”  Which at this point I do not feel safe and I don’t trust this guy.  This is finally enough for me to realize that I need to get the hell out of there. I have never packed my tent and belongings so fast in my entire life.  All while trying to be as quiet as possible so I don’t wake up this guy, who is apparently still asleep in the trailer.  I pedal away as fast as I can, thanking my stars that the campground is apparently 12 minutes biking away.  The more distance I put between myself and the trailer the better I am feeling.  I also realize that I’m on completely flat ground.  I’m biking through a beautiful grove of trees and the ground is flat and the landscape is lovely.  NO. MOUNTAIN.  I begin to realize that this creep ass of a guy had been planning from the very beginning to get me alone and do who the hell knows what.  I arrived at the campground and was greeted by a wonderful woman named Sally who invited me in to watch television with her.  She also told me that there isn’t a huge rattlesnake problem at the campground because they don’t like the gravel.  Another lie the guy told me.

The lesson I took away from this terrifying experience was STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR EVERYONE.  My issue had been that I didn’t want to insult this guy in case it turned out he really was on hard times and was repairing the trailer.  But I kept telling myself that and ignoring the fact that I was FEELING that he was not right.  The feeling that says something is a little odd and I’m not overreacting.  I learned this very, very important lesson, I feel like, in the best way possible.  Where the point truly was made without me getting hurt or killed.  From now on I’m kind of an asshole to any men that say anything that I find even remotely inappropriate.

The following morning I departed for Brenda and biked all day through beautiful land.  I passed lots of saguaro cactus that were flowering and adorable.

Saguaro! =)

Saguaro! =)

More Saguaro!!

More Saguaro!!

Look at those adorable flowers

Look at those adorable flowers

I arrived in the tiny town of Brenda around 1pm.  I had been told by many people to stop for lunch here so I did.  Brenda is a tiny community on Highway 60 that is said to be a ghost town on the west side and was a popular tourist attraction in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  It was named after the daughter of a couple in 1928, Brenda.  Interesting enough, I knew none of this until after I had already left.  Today it’s a town mostly supported by the RV parks and local grocery/deli (which was incredibly delicious).  However I was met with no after no after no when I asked if I could CAMP at these RV camps.  Tents are not allowed.  When I mentioned this to the girls who run the store they told me I could just go right outside of town and camp on the public land without any problems.  So I hung out in the restaurant all day.  As the sun began to sink I said goodbye and biked off to where the entrance to this publically fenced area of land was.  When I got there, however, I discovered that the fence was closed and locked.  I was not going to cross a closed and locked fence.  So I called the girls and asked if they could offer any advice.  They told me to come back and I could just camp on the store property which was AMAZINGLY generous of them.  I am very very grateful to them for this.    I apparently camped right next to the ghosty area.  I was in a graveled area that clearly had been used as camping area previously and I felt very safe.  I walked down and watched the sun set with relief at another safe night of sleep.

Brenda, TX sunset

Brenda, TX sunset

The next day before departing I checked Couchsurfing to see if there was a host in Quartzsite, a town that I had hoped to stop in.  I couldnt’ get a hold of anyone but passed an interesting page about a guy who was walking across America through Quartzsite.  So I had another day of absolutely beautiful scenery while I was biking.  Like after the difficult days of mountains I couldn’t believe how lucky I was getting with beautiful, relatively flat lands.  It was beautiful.

Incredible

Incredible

Sometime in the morning I biked past someone walking on the same side of the road as I was but in the opposite direction.  We nodded at each other and a split second after I passed him I knew he was the guy from Couchsurfing.  I turned around and went back.   I asked if he was on there and he said yes and introduced himself at Nate.  We stood there talking for about half an hour sharing stories and laughing.  Nate is walking to Washington D.C. to raise awareness on the way that veterans are being treated after active duty.  Often I think of Nate  and how he is walking and if he walks then I can bike because damn, the desert is HOT.  (If you’re interested in reading his blog his website is http://www.NateWalks.com)

Nate and I talking about bears

Nate and I talking about bears

It was blazingly hot, as usual.  I had been biking early mornings in mid 90 degree weather and was strangely entertained when I realized that hair on my arms was turning golden from being in the sun all day every day.  (Don’t judge me it was fun).

Look, gold!

Look, gold!

When I passed through Quartzsite (where I stopped for lunch) I called the host in Blythe who I had called a week before and e-mailed only to realize the e-mail never sent.  I knew I was going to make it there that day and wanted to confirm I had a place to camp.  I finally got ahold of them and was told to come on by.  I wasn’t sure at all what the situation would be like but that was the plan!  The closer I got to California the more excited I was getting.  As I crossed a big checkpoint to get into California I was, again, overwhelmed by a feeling of great accomplishment.  I had made it to 4 states!  I was in California!  It seemed very appropriate that I should enter California and immediately see everything green, growing, alive and water everywhere.  The Colorado River greeted me prior to entering the state and after 3 months of traveling through drought and dusty states I was ready.

'Nuff said

‘Nuff said

 

After I crossed into California I missed the turn off that would take me away from the interstate, which is illegal to bike on in California.  I had one mile to bike before the next exit and I hoped the entire time I wouldn’t get stopped and ticketed (although I also hoped that if I did they would be understanding).  I took my exit and headed up to the B&B Bait Shop which was where my hosts were apparently located.  While heading there I knew that the mountains I were seeing in front of me were called the Big Maria Mountains.  I had been looking forward to biking near them for as long as I had been mapping this section of my trip out and as I realized I was biking directly towards them I got more excited.

Big Maria Mountains!

Big Maria Mountains!

I got to the Bait shop and pulled in.  Immediately a man named Wayne walked up, welcomed me, told me he’d gotten drunk waiting for me and here have 6 beers on me.  This seemed glorious after a nice hot day of biking, after all it was about 5pm.  Wayne showed me into the bait shop and introduced me to the people working there and a few of the people hanging out around the shop.  He then walked me to the pond in the back of the property and said that most of the cyclists would camp on the dock there.  Wayne said I was welcome to shower and that he would talk to me after I got set up.  I asked him about the canal that I had to cross to roll into the driveway of the property.  He said I could totally just jump in and swim in it, that current would just float me down to the bridge where I’d just have to hop out.  I did just that.

My Set Up, with the Big Maria Mountains in the background!

My Set Up, with the Big Maria Mountains in the background!

20140426_135314 20140426_135816 20140426_135932The water was FREEZING COLD and so glorious I could have stayed all night.  However, the canal was very deep and a little terrifying because I had no idea what kind of critters swam in it.  Because of the strong current I had no control and just had to relinquish all to the water carrying me.  So it was exhilaratingly scary.  Afterwards, I took a nice shower, washed all the dust off of myself and went to visit with people.  There were a lot of people there and everyone was so friendly.  Apparently this was a little community of people who daily would come and drink beer together and just chat and share stories.  Some of them had grown up together and some had stumbled upon the shop in their travels and continued to return.  Some of the men I chatted with where hysterical.  They would tell stories and bounce exaggerations off of each other so amusingly that I laughed much of the evening, a refreshing thing after a week of stressful evenings.  I mentioned to Wayne that I wanted to look over a map with him about my next route through the desert.  Darcy, one of the women who worked at the shop told me that she works at a border checkpoint along the route of where I would be going.  The highway I planned to bike on is notoriously treacherous and dangerous.  About 90 miles through the desert with no stops for water, low visibility and literally no shoulder with drops offs into canyons.  I asked if she might take me some of the way so I wouldn’t’ have to camp multiple days in the desert (I was worried about how much water I could carry) and she said yes, she could.  After some chatting Wayne told me he was going down to Mexico on Tuesday (it was Friday) and that if I could stay until then he could take me until he turned to another highway, then I’d only have about 40 miles to bike before hitting the next big town.  I immediately was in.

And this is where I will leave you guys for tonight.  I am at a library writing up this blog and have run out of allotted computer usage time.  I’ll try to get back here tomorrow and finish up the last month of journey.  Enjoy!  I leave you with this photo.  I’ve had a few people ask me what my tent looks like from the inside and here it is!!

The inside of my tent!

The inside of my tent!

 

 

 

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Lueders to Albuquerque – A tough stretch, am I a tough enough cookie?

Alright.  It feels like it’s been AGES since my last blog post.  When we last spoke (lol) I was in Lueders, TX spending time at the Big Baptist Church and conference center helping out.  The plan that Cindy and I had made was that on Saturday she would drive me up to Lubbock since the guy who introduced us, Monroe, had family there that he could also visit so she wouldn’t be driving alone.  That Friday I spent the day helping vaccum and clean and saying goodbye to all the Seniors of Mission.  That night I played a game with them called Jokers (I think) and it was a really wonderful evening.  I was actually a little emotional about leaving (although I didn’t express that much).  I had made friends and was a little sad to say goodbye to them!  Especially Cindy, who as I told you before, I had grown close with.  Friday night I decided to do my laundry.  When I went to take them out of the dryer barefoot, I returned to my room to discover that my room was LOCKED.  I had accidentally locked it behind me and I had no key.  The only thing I could do was head to Cindy’s little house on the other side of the camp property.  In the dark.  At 11pm.  Barefoot.  Barefoot. Barefoot. BAREFOOT.  Walking through the main area of the property wasn’t bad as there was plenty of lighting but once I passed that area there were no lights and I was so terrified.  I don’t know if I’ve talked about these pesky little prickly things that are called Goatheads but THEY ARE THE DEVIL.  They poke you so sharp and when you try to pull them out the fall apart into multiple needles.  So I’m gingerly making my way to Cindy’s, where I rang the doorbell and she came out half asleep, (haha sorrrrry Cindy).  She gave me her keys and I returned to unlock my door, put on some shoes and bring them back.  I didn’t really think it through to bringing a flashlight with me so I had another dark trek to and from her house.  I packed up my clothes and fell asleep.

Saturday

Saturday morning I woke up extra early so I could have breakfast with the seniors one last time.  I ate a LOT of food.  I then went back to bed because Cindy and I weren’t planning to leave until about 2:30.  When I woke up for lunch I entered the cafeteria to see Larry (the head of the camp) eating lunch with a few other people some I knew and some I didn’t.  When he saw me he told me he had some people he wanted to introduce me to.  After I got my lunch together (a small salad, as I had a stomach ache from my big breakfast) I sat down and was introduced to a couple from Lubbock who had driven down to check out the conference center!  We had a nice chat and they agreed that they could drive me to Lubbock and could I be ready in about half an hour?  I said I could definitely and raced to my room to pack (I hadn’t done any thinking I had until 2:30).  I texted Cindy the details and cried a little while I packed because she was at a softball practice with her girls and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to her before I left.  Thankfully we are friends on Facebook and I have her number so we’ve been staying in touch but it’s hard to put off a goodbye and then not get to have it.  The Winters were very very kind and we had fantastic conversation all the way up to Lubbock where they dropped me off at the house of an old friend Dominick and his wife Delores.  (You’ll have to forgive spelling as I’m not positive how to spell that).  I hadn’t seen Dom in many years so it was very fun to see him and get to know him not as a child as I had known him in the past.

That night we went to a Mardi Gras social at their church where I met a few friends of theirs.  There was a live auction after that and it was fun to watch some people who got really into their bidding for the item that they wanted.

Sunday – Tuesday

Sunday we all went to lunch with friends of Dom and Delores from church.  I like watching people’s reactions when they hear about my trip because everyone is different.  I watch their faces and within about 5 seconds you can tell what they think of it, especially if they keep their face with no reaction at all, that’s when I can tell they’re processing HOW to react.  Sometimes the people who react like this are the best to talk to because everyone has different questions for me and some are very very interesting.

That night the Oscars were on and we all watched them together.  I have been advised to keep this blog as politically and entertainmentally neutral so I’ll just leave it at that and you can all draw your own conclusions.

Monday Dom and I went to pizza for lunch and it was DELICIOUS holy crap.  Simply wonderful.  That night Delores and I enjoyed more pizza (I mean really, what’s too much because pizza is just so freaking good).

Tuesday I mapped out where I was planning to head next.  I had a host set up for Wednesday night named Shane in Littlefield, TX.  That night we all went to dinner at a mexican restaurant and I proceeded to burn my tongue on probably one of the tastiest habenero salsa I have EVER eaten.  Before I went to bed I said my goodbyes to both Dom and Delores as I wouldn’t see them the next day before I left.  It was a really really great visit and I had the most wonderful time =)  Thank you both for everything!  ❤

Wednesday

So Wednesday arrived and I had a plan.  I was biking to a town called Levelland which was about 27 miles west of where we were in Lubbock.  Shane worked at a campus ministry center there and I was going to meet him there and when he was finished with work we would drive to his home in Littlefield.  Shortly after leaving Dom and Delores’ I began to worry just a tiny bit.  There was really no shoulder on the main road I was taking just to get out of Lubbock and while I was busy concentrating on THAT I ended up being chased by two big dogs.  Now because it was a local road and with no shoulder it wasn’t like I could swerve away from them and speed up.  I ended up having to use my dog spray for the first time ever.  To my chagrin it didn’t seem to meet it’s mark very well, but I also assume that’s because I was biking and trying to watch the road while spraying.  Eventually they dropped back but it had been close enough that I was immediately on alert.  So much for being in a nice residential well enclosed dog area.  Once I turned west on the road I would take all the way to Levelland things seemed to improve.  I had an enormous shoulder that was practically a lane to itself.

I stopped for lunch at a tiny tiny little gas station and as I said in a previous post I made a sweet little dog friend.  She was a real honey and brightened up what had been a rather boring dusty day.  I arrived at the ministry center shortly after 4:30 or something like that and Shane was actually greeting me from his truck.  He introduced himself and the students he was talking to at the time.  They were all very curious and friendly with plenty of questions.  I made myself at home and when they all went to dinner the girls invited me along.  The place we went for dinner was a delicious Mexican food place.  Afterwards I hung out at the main church building and napped while waiting for Shane.  It was a glorious nap.  We drove back to Shane’s house where I met his parents and puppies.  HIS DOGS ARE GLORIOUS (as are his parents lol).

Thursday – Saturday

I was supposed to head back out on the road the next day but I found myself enjoying Shane and his family and job so much that I decide to stay another day.  I went to work with him on Thursday and they were having a lunch for the students so I got to meet a lot of new people.  I played ping pong with one student, took money for lunches, went for a walk and just had an all around nice time.

i walked to this lake and there was a little peninsula in it that I walked out into. Very pretty, lots of duck poop. =)

Image

That night we all played Ultimate Frisbee which, by the way, I learned that I suck at.  I spent that evening with Shane and we had a nice time just sharing great stories and laughing over glasses of milk.  The next day I slept in and stayed at Shane’s house while he went in to work.  It was rumored to get really chilly the next day, maybe even snow so I extended my visit a little longer.  I was really enjoying myself, Shane and his family were the most wonderful company AND they love Fleetwood Mac haha.  Shane fixed up some stuff on my bike that was creating issues, including my brakes which where apparently so filthy that that was why I couldn’t really used them well.  We ended up needed to replace the rear brake cable.  Well on a Friday night hunting for a place with brake cable was a tough task that we put off until the next day.

That night for dinner Shane’s dad made vegetarian enchiladas and they were diiiviiiinnneeee.  Yum yum yum.  For dessert we ate some chocolate cake that his mom had made!  I’m noticing a pattern here, all my posts are about the food I eat.  Well, I’ll admit it.  I have food cravings like I have never had in my life and I’m one of those people who is constantly craving food.

Saturday morning Shane’s dad made us some wonderful omelettes and we had homemade salsa to go with it.  Shane’s dad had managed to get us a brake cable from the local hardware store which was great because the next town where we thought we’d be able to buy it was closed on Saturdays.  Shane was driving me to Clovis, NM a town about an hour away where I was supposed to have a host.  This host had told me he would arrive home at 9pm and then had a going away party to go to and I was welcome to join him.  Well I spent all day on Saturday trying to get ahold of him to no avail.  Well we finally left around 3:30 pm.  We stopped at the New Mexico border for a photo of course!

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That night Shane dropped me off at an RV campground and we said goodbye.  I really enjoyed staying with Shane, as he was the first host who I felt I really befriended as a peer, the same age as me.  Little things about touring that I’ve noticed like me talking to inanimate objects he totally picked up as well on his trek through part of Europe last summer!  He also knew what I meant when I said it makes a big difference when you believe in yourself but you also hear others go out of their way to give you encouragement.  Even when strangers are like YES YOU CAN DO THIS it means so much more than me telling myself that I can do it.  I will definitely see Shane again one day!  I set up my tent next to a stall with two ponies.  As soon as I started unpacking my tent my hosts texted me that he had been in the mountains and would be home in about 4 hours.  I decided that because New Mexico was already a new time zone that I had to get used to so he wouldn’t be home until it was about 11pm in my head I was going to stay cozy where I was and that was fine, it wasn’t an issue and I had no hard feelings towards him because he was apologetic.  As I finished up my set up I got to watch the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in a long time.  Like inCREdible.

This was the sunset of that night.

This was the sunset of that night.

That night was the worst sleep I have slept so far on this entire trip.  I was unaware when I picked my camping spot that it was like legitimately 100 feet from the train tracks.  Trains that travelled through about every 20 minutes or so and felt so inclined as to blow their train horns as loudly and obnoxiously as possible not to mention shaking the earth.  So as soon as I would drift off I’d be jerked awake by the trains again.  It made for a rough night.  In the morning I took off with a dead phone and ipod because I had finally resorted to putting in my headphones to cover the sound of the trains.

Sunday

I was exhausted from lack of sleep the night before and so, after 5 miles when I was passing a place called Travelers World Campground I decided to stop and ask if I could charge up my stuff.  The couple who owned the place were very gracious and let me sit in their rec room charging my stuff.  While we were chatting they told me about another biker who had recently come through from the west (the direction that I would be heading that day) and had announced that he had been chased by a pack of dogs about 2 miles down the road.  So at this point I wasn’t happy.  I spent the whole afternoon watching my things charge and wringing my hands about the dogs.  I procrastinated so long that it soon grew too late for me to continue on my way.  I resigned myself to the camping fee for the night and set up camp.   The only issue I had that night was zipping myself up completely in my sleeping bag and then being unable to UNzip it.  I had a very legitimate panic attack and after three freak outs from inside my bag I managed to unzip it.  Needless to say I slept with it unzipped that night.  I slept like the dead that night after having close to no sleep the night before.

Monday

The next morning I woke up around 7am, showered and packed up my camp.  I then called the Sheriff’s office to inquire on the current status of the house with the dogs, as the biker had attempted to file a report when his incident had occurred.  The Sheriff’s department, after a little prodding, agreed to drive out in search of the house to check on the dogs.  Upon hearing me ask this worriedly the owner the campground told me that he would just drive me about a mile or two past where the house was.  I was so relieved.  I really hate confrontations with dogs but I was beyond terrified of the idea of having to face a PACK of dogs, and one that was known for chasing cyclists didn’t help.

The owner of the campground also told me that the wind the following day was supposed to get up to 40 mph and then 60 mph the following night.  I knew that this day I had to cover as much ground as possible to insure that I would be in a town where I could take refuge behind a building during the storm.  I biked and biked and biked and biked and biked and biked.  Thankfully there was like no wind, the temperature was good and the terrain was pretty flat.  Finally at about 4:30 I looked at the map and decided I would try to make it through a town just before a town named Taiban, NM.  When I got to the town (which I cannot for the life of me find on the map anymore) I discovered: the town was entirely abandoned.  All the buildings were in disrepair, falling down, falling apart, no windows, doors missing, you name it.  Totally empty and I cannot describe the eerie feeling of biking through an empty town.  I knew I wasn’t going to be camping there that night.  I continued on knowing the next town (Taiban) was only about 7 miles away.  I arrived in Taiban around 5:15 pm.  I passed the city limit sign and biked for literally about 4 minutes before the sidewalk ended, the houses ended, everything stopped and there was the city limit sign.

Where the sidewalk ends, apparently

Where the sidewalk ends, apparently

I stopped and looked behind me….waiiiiit… I just got here.  Again, many of the buildings were abandoned and falling down.  The only building that seemed to be alive was the post office but they were closed, obviously.  The house next to it had a light on with some funky cactus too so I rolled up and knocked.

Funky Cactus

Funky Cactus

An elderly man with an oxygen tank answered the door.  I introduced myself and my trip and asked if I could camp on his property.  Within 1 second he was like “Oh sure!  You could even sleep out in the shed if you wanted to!”  And pointed to … well. …. to a building that I was certain held dead bodies in it.  I rolled my bike over to the edge of the property and cautiously approached the shed.  I wrestled to open the door sure to see some stairs leading down to a basement where someone was held captive or seeing horrible horribleness inside. I startled something inside it.  So of course it is making scared noises and I’m making scared noises and I just realized that sleeping in this creepy ass shed was never going to happen.  The thing ended up being a dove and it’s little family.  I decided officially that I would go to the trouble of setting up my camp over sleeping here for EVERYTHING.  Next item of business was setting up and not getting any freaking pricklies in my tent.  I really REALLY didn’t want my sleeping pad to be puncture by one of these goatheads and then be ruined.  I called Kerry’s mama and chatted with her while I set up my tent.  I felt pretty good afterwards too because it’s always nice to talk to her but also the sun was setting in a way where it was hitting my solar charger just right.  I left my phone alone so it could suck up some sun.  Upon checking my map I discovered that I had gone 42 miles!!  42!!  That is the longest I have ever done and I was so proud of myself!  I drifted off to sleep immediately and in the morning I woke up happy and refreshed but also kind of dreadful.

Tuesday

When I woke up on Tuesday I was so nervous.  As I packed up my tent the wind was already whipping around me making it difficult really to do much of anything.  I finally set off and biked for three hours straight with the wind blowing on my right and my front the entire time and only made it about 4 miles.   After that time the wind got stronger and started blowing me into the highway and that’s when I got off my bike and started walking it.  Even doing that I was being blown to the side.  I was exhausted after about half an hour and realized I was not in any way going to make it to Fort Sumner by bike.  I could barely stand!  I decided I was going to get a ride because there was nowhere with protection that I could set up camp that I wouldn’t be blowing all over the place.  Finally a truck slowed down for me and I blew/ran up to him and explained the situation.  He said of course he could take me to Fort Sumner and we loaded up my bike.  The man’s name was Terry and once we got going on the road it became clear to me that I had met a very kind person.  Terry offered to buy me lunch in Fort Sumner and to take me to the Billy the Kid Museum, which I agreed to.  We went to the museum first which was fascinating and full of fun historical items.

the story of this is that this guy was denied a drivers license so he built himself this bike/car….contraption. I said how great would it be if I was biking around on this thing.

This was the bike’s trailer.

In Fort Sumner

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During lunch Terry told me several very important things.  The highway that I had been planning to take to get me closer to Albuquerque is pretty damn remote, like practically no cars and no towns in between.  He was driving up to Las Vegas, NM so he offered to take me as far as Santa Rosa, NM where I could then get on the interstate/Route 66.  Again, I agreed.  When we got to Santa Rosa we went to a spot called the Blue Hole.  It’s AMAZING.  It’s a pool that is approximately 80 feet deep.  The water is constantly changed out so it’s a beautiful shade of blue.  I cannot stop talking about this pool.  Divers come from all over the country to learn to dive.  If it had been warm enough I would have swam.

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After this it was time to try and find a church in town that would let me camp behind their building where I would be protected from the winds which at this point were forecasted to be approximated 65 mph.  We hunted high and low and then drove up to Santa Rosa State Park where all the primitive campsites were just utterly abandoned.  There was no one there, not even a park ranger, which made me nervous.  I decided to try my luck in town and then we drove into the RV campground part of the park!  We passed an RV with bikes attached and decided to throw caution to the wind.  I hopped out and asked the owners of the RV if I could possibly camp alongside them since there was a wall that would protect me.  They said of course, and Terry also explained that he trusted me and I wasn’t a crazy person.  I said my goodbye to Terry who left me a gazillion amazing homemade cookies to eat.  I then set up my tent, took a shower and got into my tent.  Kit and Bob (the owners of the RV) invited me over for dinner so I headed over there.  We spent the evening chatting about my trip, concerns, telling them stories and hearing about their travels!  It was a lovely, wonderful evening and i didn’t even notice how windy it was getting.  By the time I bid them goodnight and exited the RV the wind was strong and it was cold!  I bundled up in my tent and put on my headphones.  As long as I couldn’t hear the wind I was okay with it because I knew my belongings would keep my in my tent and I wouldn’t blow away and if I did then there was nothing that would help.  In the morning everything was still there.

Wednesday

Kit and Bob said they could take me out of the park which I had actually tossed and turned thinking about the night before.  It was a pretty twisty turn-ey desert dry and isolated park and I had no signal to tell me how the hell to get out.  We loaded everything up and were off!  They dropped me off and we said goodbye!  Off I biked, starting the day going down a wonderful little hill.  I knew that about halfway between where I started and the next town there was a rest stop area with a Dairy Queen, 24 hour gas station and souvenir  shop.  It wasn’t terribly windy which was great because I was definitely climbing a few small hills.  I knew I had all day to only go about 20 miles so that was a relief.  When I finally rolled up to the place it was HUGE.  I really mean enormous too.  The gift shop was beautiful!  The managers of the place were wonderful people who told me not only could I camp behind the whole place but I could set my tent up next to their home.  While I was setting up camp a friendly little cat came to say hello.  She wanted a tummy rub, she wanted in my tent to explore and she wanted to play with the poles of my tent.  I spent the afternoon hanging out in the souvenir shop chatting with the employees who were all wonderful and friendly.  I also bought myself a really lovely, simple little ring.  It’s a Zuni design and I am in love with it.

The little ring under my grandmother’s ring.

I slept really well that night despite the fact that it was FREEZING.  I pulled out my winter coat and cuddled in.

Thursday

The next day I took off hoping to get to a town named Clines Corners.  It was only about 16 miles away but I was really nervous.  The wind wasn’t exactly mild and there were a LOT of hills.  After going for about five hours I had only gone halfway there.  I was going up one hill in particular that was killing me and I was pep talking myself the whole way  up.  I was dying but was determined to make it when a big gust of wind suddenly slammed into me and I felt my leg give way.  It was the same muscle I had just pulled a month previously!  I WAS PISSED.  I could not believe this was happening to me.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  I tried getting a ride but I was on the interstate and I admit to myself that even I wouldn’t pick up a girl on a bike.  That’s when I remembered that there was a Warmshowers host a few towns away.  I had not planned to stop in that town since it was one I had been planning to pass through during a day but emergency times call for emergency measures.  I called the hosts and they said that they could indeed pick me up in about 2 hours.  So I kept walking and suddenly this woman was next to me.  I screamed so loudly I think I scared her.  She and her husband had been driving in the opposite direction and seen me.  They had turned around and pulled up behind me.  They had tried calling out to me but I hadn’t heard them.  They gave me a ride to Clines Corners where I was able to wait for my host to pick me up.

My mood prior to remembering the warmshowers hosts is pretty clear.

Once the Thiery’s picked me up and brought me home my mood improved drastically.  I had been able to ice my leg which was glorious.  For dinner we had burritos which was delicious.  I tried to get ahold of my hosts for that week, friends of my mom, but was having phone issues and couldn’t seem to get ahold of them.  The Thiery’s then told me that they were going out of town for the next two days and would I like to stay there at the house and dog sit their beautiful German Shepherd, Greta.  Of COURSE I would!  So that was the plan.

Greta and I

This is how Greta sleeps =)

The next two days were very relaxing and fairly uneventful.  I puttered around the house baking banana bread, cookies, made myself some pad thai, and played with Greta.  She loved being chased around the house.  A friend of mine from Facebook informed me that she lived IN Albuquerque, which I wasn’t aware of until then.  We then arranged for her to come get me on Sunday with my bike and everything since I knew there was one more big climb before getting into Albuquerque and this time I am not giving my leg any excuse to not heal properly.  Carmen arrived on Sunday morning, we packed up her car bid the Thiery’s goodbye and off we drove!

Sunday

Carmen and her son, Kevin, and I drove into Old Town in Albuquerque where all the little shops are.  I was honestly in utterly heaven!  So much beautiful Native American jewelry from all different tribes and I wanted it all.  Carmen surprised me by buying me a necklace with a pendant that matches the ring I had purchased for myself!!

How sweet was that? Thanks Carmen!!

We explored for awhile, I found some Obama earrings and we listened to a band from Ecuador play for awhile.

Carmen and I

Carmen and I

Obama earrings?!?!  Gimme.

Obama earrings?!?! Gimme.

Ecuadorian music, it was really great!

Ecuadorian music, it was really great!

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

In Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

We then went out to dinner/lunch.  I had a really great day with them it was exactly what I wanted to see in Albuquerque.  Later they dropped me off at Karen and Bill’s house, the friends of my mom who I was staying with!  Immediately I felt at home.  Karen grew up in the same town as I did and her house, I feel, is a reflection of that.  Everything about it reminds me of my hometown and there is beautiful artwork everywhere.   One of Karen and Bill’s daughters, Emma and her friend Chad are also here so it’s nice to just have a whole little family to chill with.  ALSO. THEY HAVE THE BEST DOG EVER.  Her name is Ravi and if I could dognap her I so would.  She is a bully breed mixed with a boxer and I cannot get enough of her cuddly cuteness.

Sweet, sweet Ravi ❤

Last night was St. Patricks Day and Karen worked all day making a delicious Irish feast, which we all enjoyed and appreciated!

Karen and her fabulous dinner!

Then we drank Irish beer and played pingpong.  Today I ran some errands with Bill and got to see a little more of Albuquerque which was fun.  Then we had dinner and all relaxed in the hot tub before indulging in some angel food cake with whipped cream that Karen taught me how to make!  The plan is that I am departing from this sweet haven on Thursday which to be honest with you I have mixed feelings about simply because I’m enjoying myself so much.  They have a hot tub, their backyard is INCREDIBLY gorgeous and the company is just the best!  It’s nice to have someone who hugs you before bedtime as I’m a huge hugger and since starting this trip I haven’t had more than the polite pat pat pat hugs.

To wrap up

To wrap things up on this post, I have had it pointed out to me and I am also aware that I have run into several issues on this latest stretch.  I have taken several rides and changed plans, had injuries and felt sorry for myself.  While I don’t feel the need to justify to others taking rides when they’re offered I still will explain.  This is MY trip.  I can take however many rides that I feel that I need to take.  It’s a long ass trip, what’s a few rides here and there!  Being honest with myself though I will say I’m a little nervous about crossing all the mountains that I have coming up.  If I can’t even make it up the hills LEADING to the mountains who knows how I’m going to do this.  I can only hope that I am smart and tough enough to withstand whatever comes at me next.  The next section of travel will be from here to Gallup and then on to the Grand Canyon!  So depending on if I have a host in Gallup I will either update y’all from Gallup or the GC!!  See you then!! ❤ <3<3